He met her while on a talent hunt in a secondary school in Plateau, and they both fell in love. This is the story of two long distance runners, Emmanuel Gyan and Deborah Pam who will be getting married in April 2019. Excerpt, starting with Deborah; and then, Emmanuel:
How does it feel to finish as the first Nigeria woman at the 2019 edition of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon?
I am very happy and excited because I won it again. I was offered the top prize as the number one Nigeria woman. My sixth position overall was also a perfect start to the New Year for me. I planned to finish among the first eight and was able to achieve that.
Tell us about your love with Emmanuel and how you have been able to manage your career as athlete and also as lover?
We still manage to enjoy ourselves as a couple. We had our introduction recently and we are going to be going down the aisle in April. Despite the love we share, we don’t allow that to affect our lives as professional athletes especially during training. He advises me and encourages me in all that I need to do as an athlete. He has been planning my future and also my current programmes as an athlete. No one else can do what he has been doing for me.
You just finished from the College of Education. What are your future plans?
I intend to go further because when I retire as an athlete, I will fall back on my certificate. I am looking for a good job that will help me and family when we are no longer active athletes.
Do you plan to go for more competitions soon, especially outside the country?
I am preparing to go for competitions abroad especially in the US where we have good competitions like the 10km, 21km and the full marathon. We are preparing to do that after our wedding.
What’s going through your mind now that you are finally walking down the aisle with the love of your life?
I feel happy. I am happy she decided to be my wife after such a long time of courtship. I met her some years back when I went to schools in Plateau State to find talents for long distance races. Luckily, she was one of the talents I found; and we have been together since then.
What’s so special about Deborah?
She is beautiful, lovely and friendly and that’s what has been keeping us together all these years.
How have you been combining your role as coach and lover?
It has not been easy. But we have been managing ourselves. Whenever we are in training, we both forget about love. Later, we return to our relationship as lovers. We have been managing that well so far.
Soon she will be your wife. How will you cope with your dual role?
I will try to use tough love. Although we have been doing that so far and we will see how we can manage the two roles with as little problem as possible.
One major tournament for you will be the Okpekpe Road race in Edo State in May. That will come just a few days after your wedding. What’s the plan for the race?
She will still be training; we will not stop when we become husband and wife. We will continue the way we have been doing as lovers. Nothing changes after marriage. We are going to go aim higher for other races in the course of the year.